What To Do In Seville If It’s Your First Visit
Seville is the capital of the Andalusia, and as such it carries all of the trimmings of an important Spanish city. Stately architecture, the tranquil Guadalquivir River, orange tree-lined boulevards, twisting narrow streets, and its vibrant history make this a captivating city to visit on any rail tour of Europe. Here are the best things to do in Seville when it’s your first visit.
Things to do in Seville
1. Explore the Royal Palace
The Alcázar of Seville is a grand royal palace in the heart of Seville. The palace was originally designed by Moorish Muslim kings. Many regard it as one of most beautiful examples of this type of architecture in all of Spain. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, and these days you can explore the palace, its gates, and its vast gardens packed full of fruit trees and beautiful flowers.
Insider tip: Be sure to visit the Patio de las Doncellas, or Patio of the Maidens, in the heart of the palace – there you’ll find stunning plasterwork, tiling, and classic arches.
2. Catch your breath in the Parque de María Luisa
Seville’s Parque de María Luisa is a beautiful green lung in the heart of the city. It’s perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of the surrounding neighborhoods. You’ll find tranquil lawns, duck ponds, soothing fountains, and interesting statues and sculptures. There are also several other attractions within the park, including Museo Arqueológico and Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares. Then there’s the famous Plaza de España, which you may recognize from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.
Insider tip: If you’d like to explore all corners of the park, but also want to skip the walking, then you can hire four-person bikes for 30-minute periods.
3. Enter one of the largest churches in the world
The Cathedral of St. Mary in the middle of the city is one of the largest Christian churches in the world, and it’s equally impressive from both inside and out. It’s located on the site of the 12th century Almohad mosque, and its iconic minaret still stands on the premises. A walk around the cathedral may be rewarding, but its interiors are truly breathtaking. Inside you’ll find various artworks, the tomb of Christopher Columbus, and a tranquil patio punctuated with orange trees.
Insider tip: The cathedral’s bell tower, the Giralda, is one of the most iconic symbols of Seville. A trip to the top is worth the entrance fee for the views alone.
4. Get lost in the Jewish Quarter
Seville’s Jewish Quarter is located close to the Cathedral. It’s the primary tourist neighborhood in the city, and it has a rich history. A walk through the quiet, twisting streets and alleyways is one of the most rewarding things to do in Seville. The narrow streets provide protection from the sun on a hot day, and even residents of many years claim to get lost. That’s half the charm of this unique neighborhood. So put the map away and spend an hour or two just soaking up the rich heritage and atmosphere of this medieval district.
Insider tip: If the day’s walking has built up a thirst in you, then head to Plaza de los Venerables for a wide selection of bars.
5. Eat out
Seville has a burgeoning food scene. The city has a wide range of trendy restaurants springing up in several unusual spots and interesting neighborhoods. These days you’ll find high quality meals at reasonable prices throughout. But if you’re looking for something more traditional, Seville has dozens of celebrated tapas bars with bite size portions for unbeatable prices.
Insider tip: El Rinconcillo is Seville’s oldest tapas restaurant, and they have been an institution since the late 1600s. You’ll find them on Calle Gerona 40. If you’re looking for a wide selection in a market atmosphere, then head to the bustling Lonja de Feria Food Market.
6. Kayak the river
Seville’s iconic River Guadalquivir is perfect for an afternoon walk or picnic, but even better when you get down onto the water. Instead of a casual walk along the banks, take a kayak to get a whole new perspective on this fascinating part of the city. Some companies allow you to paddle out on your own, but if you want some context, opt for a tour.
Insider tip: The Spanish sun can be harsh – even when you least expect it. Pack a hat and sunscreen if you’re heading out onto the water.
7. Visit a genuine Flamenco club
Flamenco and Seville are almost inseparable. There are few better places in the world to experience this majestic dance than in a genuine Flamenco social club. Like many Spanish cities, there are dozens of touristy bars and restaurants that claim to offer the real deal but have steep entrance fees. You’re better off heading to a peña – many of which offer free entrance.
Insider tip: Don’t be tempted to leave early. The end of the proceedings are among the most enjoyable, as flamenco artists from the audience take to the stage to let loose.
8. See the largest wooden building in the world
Metropol Parasol claims to be the largest wooden building in the world, and it’s as stunning as it is controversial. The large undulating wooden structure looks like a cross between a giant child’s toy and an unfinished theme park attraction. While it has drawn the ire of many locals, it’s an enthralling structure to visit.
Insider tip: The views from the top of Metropol Parasol are stunning. For a small entrance fee you take an exhilarating stroll along the wooden walkway.
Seville is a fascinating city to explore in its own right. But when you consider that it’s a short train ride away from other Andalusia heavyweights such as Ronda, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, and the Costa del Sol, it’s a no-brainer to feature this in your southern Spain rail journey.